Now, it turns out they'll pitch Game 1. Well, sort of.
With rain suspending the opener of the American League Division Series between the Yankees and Tigers after a 77-minute delay, Saturday's Game 1 will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET on TBS and will pick up where Friday's ceased -- in a 1-1 tie heading into the bottom of the second at Yankee Stadium.
The only difference is it will be Nova and Fister, not CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander.
"I don't worry about stuff like that," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I think when the manager makes a big deal about stuff like that, it affects the players. It is what it is. It rained. So what? It's three. It's all about three. Win three, lose three. That's what this is about. The magic number's three for both teams. That's the way it is. There's no sense getting all excited."
For the rest of this series, Leyland will start Fister, Max Scherzer, Verlander, Rick Porcello and Fister, in that order. Yankees skipper Joe Girardi said he'll throw Freddy Garcia on Sunday and hasn't decided on the rest, though there's at least a slight chance Sabathia can convince him to pitch on Sunday so he can be set up to pitch twice in this series.
The Yankees and Tigers could now play four games in four days -- on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday -- and then have a Wednesday off-day before Thursday's Game 5 (if needed).
But that's only if Saturday's game isn't affected -- a tough proposition considering that more rain is on the horizon.
"It's not what we wanted," Girardi said. "This club has been resilient all year long and has had to overcome some obstacles, and this just might be another one."
Leyland's primary focus is on the man who will take the mound on Saturday night.
The Tigers have hardly even seen Nova; all he's thrown against them is two scoreless innings of relief in his Major League debut last year. And if you watched rookie Matt Moore mow through the high-powered Rangers in Game 1 of the other ALDS, you know how much of an impact unfamiliarity can have on this stage.
"We're a little concerned about that," Leyland said. "We don't know a whole lot, other than what we see on tape, what the scout says. We have all that information, but really, the hitters will have to get a little feel for that when they get in the box. You give guys reports, you never know how it's going to play out. We know he's very good."
Leyland has a good one going, too.
Nobody really expected Fister to be the best pre-Trade Deadline acquisition of the year, but that's exactly what he's been. Since the start of August, the 27-year-old right-hander leads the AL in ERA at 1.79, ranks second in wins with eight and leads everybody with a crazy 11.40 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Nova, a legit contender for the AL Rookie of the Year Award, posted 16 wins and a 3.70 ERA in 165 1/3 innings. Since returning from the Minor Leagues, he's 8-0 with a 3.18 ERA in 11 starts.
Now, Nova -- along with Fister -- will make his first postseason start, something he didn't seem particularly worried about.
"I don't think it's going to be too difficult, because [I've done it] before," Nova said. "I had big games this year, and it wasn't difficult to do. Why is it going to be difficult [Saturday]?"
Tigers: Rain could cost Detroit on offense
Since Game 1 was pushed back instead of restarted on Friday, the lineups will stay the same, which is a pretty difficult proposition for Detroit. In preparation to face a lefty in Sabathia, the Tigers trotted out a righty-heavy batting order for Game 1. Now, they'll face a righty in Nova, and they can't really change it.
That's a big deal for the Tigers, who platoon based on a lefty or righty starter in three positions. In a normal start against Nova, the switch-hitting Ramon Santiago and Wilson Betemit would've likely been at second and third base, respectively, and Leyland might have put Andy Dirks or Don Kelly in right field, in place of Magglio Ordonez.
Yankees: Decision on CC upcoming
Girardi has a tough decision to make with Sabathia. The Yankees' skipper announced after Friday's delay that his ace wouldn't pitch until Monday's Game 3, at the earliest, after going through a full warmup and throwing 27 pitches in the interrupted Game 1.
If that's the case, that would mean Sabathia would pitch only once in this series. And that would mean the Yankees would have to go with a four-man rotation, meaning A.J. Burnett or Phil Hughes could get a start, since Bartolo Colon didn't make the roster.
During the regular season, 22 games were affected by rain at Yankee Stadium. A Major League-high nine of those were postponed. ... The Yankees are facing an AL Central opponent in the ALDS for the fifth straight year. They went 22-14 against the AL Central this season. ... Twelve of the 25 players on the Tigers' roster are seeing their first postseason action.